800 arrested worldwide in huge crime sting: Europol

Carla Harmon
June 8, 2021

"This is a turning point in Australian law enforcement history, Morrison told reporters in Sydney".

AFP provided the technical staff for Operation Ironside, which started three years ago after a similar take-down of encrypted communications provider Phantom Secure, federal police said.

In Australia alone, 224 people have been charged as part of the operation, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison said had "struck a heavy blow against organised crime - not just in this country, but one that will echo around organised crime around the world".

It has led to arrests in 18 countries.

"More than 800 arrests, more than 700 locations searched, more than eight tons of cocaine".

The AFP said it also acted on 20 threats to kill, potentially saving the lives of a significant number of innocent bystanders, with intelligence handed to state police agencies which took immediate action.

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said Operation Ironside had left organised crime in Australia reeling.

'We were able to turn the tables and access the communications of criminal organisations which operate worldwide, ' Shivers said.

A copy of a website sighted by iTNews dated March 21 this year criticised the operational security of AN0M, and said it used Google and Amazon Web Services features hosted in the U.S. that made it easy to track users.

Australian officials said they had revealed the operation Tuesday because of the need to disrupt unsafe plots now in motion and because of limited time frames for legal authorities invoked to intercept the communications.

The operation known as Trojan Shield led to police raids in 16 nations. As advertised, the messaging app allowed users to send encrypted voice messages and texts between devices, and the registered phone can not have other installed applications to ensure security and utmost privacy. The software would only run on smartphones specially modified so that they could not make calls nor send emails.

The app also helped police stop a mass shooting of a family of five, orchestrated by organised crime.

"You had to know a criminal to get hold of one of these customised phones".

AN0M's website - which once offered "military grade" encryption services and devices with special features like "light and dark" display themes - was unavailable Tuesday, with a message from authorities that the "domain has been seized". Commissioner Kershaw said the organisation he leads "provided a technical capability to decrypt the messages", and that as a result his force, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Europol were able to observe communications among criminals in plain text.

The key to the operation was the secret rollout of a new platform called ANoM to criminal syndicates by law enforcement.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the operation had been carefully planned with global law enforcement bodies.

Europol said that the FBI has been working with Australian Federal Police since 2019 to develop an encrypted device company called ANOM.

The FBI says law enforcement agencies worked together to supply "more than 12,000 devices to hundreds of criminal organizations that operate around the globe".

"It is an ongoing operation".

"The operation puts Australia at the forefront of the fight against criminals who peddle in misery and ultimately, it will keep our communities and Australians safe".

Criminal figures also turned on each other once arrests were made.

The operation started in the early morning and included a raid at a Rosewater house in which motorbikes, cars and jet skis were confiscated.

Police seized vehicles in a major operation across Adelaide.

Meanwhile, a New Zealand police operation involving the National Organised Crime Group unfolded this morning across the North Island.

They will appear in court today on charges of drug dealing, money laundering and other conspiracy charges.

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